Hardwick, News

Fontaine to Help Keep Lights On

HARDWICK – The electric department’s board of commissioners held a special meeting on Monday, May 6, for a management planning update.

They signed an agreement with Jim Fontaine, temporarily engaging him to manage the Hardwick Electric Department (HED).

Fontaine presented an on-call schedule that includes support from Morrisville and Stowe departments, along with pricing that is expected to reduce the workload that has been carried by Brian Forant since the resignation of former General Manager Mike Sullivan.

After confirming that banking services were in order and the department’s cash flow was adequate, they began discussing the requirements for a permanent general manager, debating whether to emphasize engineering qualifications or customer service abilities in the candidates responding to their search.

Recently appointed commissioner and long-time, but now retired HED employee, Renaud Demers, suggested that utilizing outside engineering services made more sense. Others suggested that finding “a guy who can handle the business” and either contracting with an outside engineering firm or hiring an engineer would meet the department’s needs.

Additional discussion about hiring a recruiting firm so the commissioners wouldn’t have to sort through all applications from those interested in the general manager’s position led to no final decision on how to proceed.

There was then discussion of revising easement agreements to be more specific about where customers are authorizing HED equipment to be placed. Commissioners all agreed that aligning the department’s customer service approach with other utilities would go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction.

Dental insurance coverage, the status of a proposal from the union representing HED employees, the timing for repairs to the Wolcott hydroelectric generating station and work on the Yellow Barn Project brought the meeting to a close.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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